TOKYO, July 7 (Reuters) - NTT DoCoMo Inc (9437.T) said on Monday it will start selling Research In Motion’s RIM.TO BlackBerry smartphones to individual users in Japan from Aug. 1, less than a month after its rival launches Apple Inc’s (AAPL.O) iPhone in the country.
Users of the BlackBerry Internet Service will be able to directly connect to the Internet without a dedicated server, and DoCoMo hopes it will appeal to individuals and small to midsize businesses. DoCoMo, Japan’s biggest mobile phone operator, has been seeking rights to sell the iPhone in Japan, but smaller rival Softbank Corp (9984.T) won the contract first.
Third-ranked Softbank, which has been steadily eating into DoCoMo’s market share with its quirky marketing and aggressive price cuts, will launch the iPhone in Japan on July 11.
DoCoMo has been selling the BlackBerry since 2006 for corporate clients. It began with an English-only service then added a Japanese service in 2007.
DoCoMo shares closed unchanged at 162,000 yen. The benchmark Nikkei average .N225 rose 0.9 percent. (Reporting by Sachi Izumi)